October 07, 2016 - 6:30 PM
'YOU CAN'T EXPECT A POLICE OFFICER TO BE ON EVERY CORNER.'
KAMLOOPS - In recent months at least two vigilante groups have set up shop in Kamloops claiming they are preventing crime and making the community safer.
Creep Catchers is hunting down online child predators and meeting with them face-to-face, while the Soldiers of Odin claim they're a charity holding prevention walks through communities, although experts have questioned their motives.
These groups say they are going around the law to "protect" their communities and some residents seem to be just fine with their tactics.
"We have called the cops many times and have even not had them show up," says one Facebook message about the Soldiers of Odin. Another message on Facebook offers the group "high fives" for keeping the community safe.
There are other ways to get involved in the protection of your community and it seems Kamloops residents aren't utilizing them.
ONLY NINE BLOCK WATCH NEIGHBOURHOODS IN THE CITY
Crime prevention coordinator for the City of Kamloops, Sandro Piroddi, says only nine neighbourhoods in the city have a Block Watch program currently in place, a program that's been in Kamloops for about two years.
He says another 15 to 20 neighbourhoods are looking at getting the program started, but adds people sometimes drop out before even before the Block Watch signs go up.
There is currently one Block Watch each in the Barnhartvale, Westsyde, Aberdeen and Batchelor Heights neighbourhoods and two each in Brock and the North Shore.
Prioddi says "people come to the office all excited and get all the materials," then the fear of commitment comes in. Residents who are interested in Block Watch have to go door-to-door to speak with their neighbours and he says even that can be too much for someone to commit to.
The Block Watch program is all about education on crime prevention, Piroddi says, and crime prevention only works when everyone participates.
"I think we have to look after our own neighbourhoods and our own homes," he says. "You can't expect a police officer to be on every corner."
The program seems to be working. In neighbourhoods with a Block Watch program up and running, he says residents have reported suspicious occurences dropping by about 50 per cent.
He hopes there will five more Block Watches in place in the city by the end of the year.
If you or your neighbours would like to get involved with Block Watch contact Sandro Piroddi at 250-571-3862.
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